Rouse seeks rezoning of Howard industrial tract


The Rouse Co. is asking Howard County to rezone 422 acres of industrially zoned land Rouse bought from General Electric Co. to allow warehouse and distribution uses and a concentration of large-scale retail operations.

A subsidiary of Rouse, GEAPE Inc., wants to convert 356.7 acres from industrial zoning to a light manufacturing and warehouse category, which would permit warehouse and research and development operations.

The company also is asking for commercial zoning of 65.2 acres so it can seek to attract such retailers as PACE, Price Club, B. J.'s, Circuit City and IKEA, said Alton Scavo, a Rouse vice president.

The site, off Snowden River Parkway adjacent to Rouse's Columbia Gateway office park, has had industrial zoning since 1968.

Mr. Scavo said the Rouse Co. -- the developer of Columbia -- cannot develop the property for multiple warehouse users under the current industrial zoning, which requires single ownership of a site totaling 300 acres or more. Rouse's proposal involves developing the site, then selling individual pieces to warehouse users.

To win a rezoning case, the applicant must prove that the Zoning Board made a mistake when it zoned the property or that the character of the neighborhood has changed.

Rouse is arguing in its petition that the board failed during the recent comprehensive rezoning to consider that General Electric had sold a large segment of its industrial land, and that the Balti

more-Washington corridor is moving away from manufacturing to "services and distribution."

The 65.2 acres proposed for a retail center would be visible from Snowden River Parkway. Mr. Scavo said that Howard County "lacks this kind of project and county residents have to go to other parts of the state to find the larger bulk retailers."

Located on the 356.7-acre parcel are a 987,400-square-foot warehouse and a 575,000-square-foot manufacturing building that once were part of GE's operations there. Both buildings would be used for warehouse and distribution centers, Mr. Scavo added.

Mr. Scavo said Rouse currently is leasing space to GE in the warehouse until a warehouse the appliance manufacturer is building outside the county is ready.

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